Manolada victims detail grim conditions

Greek Council for Refugees and Doctors of the World hear from 92 victims of shooting incident

Migrant strawberry pickers confirm that they hadn't been paid in six months and that the foremen shot at them on the third day of a protest, when they expressed a willingness to go on strike

Eleven-hour working days, seven days a week. A place to sleep in a shack with no running water, heating or toilets. And all for a a free meal and the promise of €22 a day. But in reality, you were left without a cent for your work for over six months.

Bangladeshi worker Mohamed (C), 25, is helped by colleagues into a tent in the town of Manolada, following Wednesday's shooting incident Bangladeshi worker Mohamed (C), 25, is helped by colleagues into a tent in the town of Manolada, following Wednesday's shooting incident These were the conditions under which the migrant strawberry pickers slaved in the western Peloponnesian town of Manolada, where last week three foremen opened fire on workers seeking backpay, leaving 35 injured. 

The conditions have been detailed in a report from Greek Council for Refugees and the Greek Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), who sent a delegation to the area two days after the incident. 

The delegation found that a total of 92 workers were targeted in the shooting attack. Of these, 35 were injured, with four taken to hospital in Pyrgos and two to Rio, outside Patras.

The three foremen accused of carrying out the shooting have been charged with attempted murder and illegal weapons possession and will await trial in prison custody.

According to the workers, they were hired to work for €22 for a seven-hour day, seven days a week. The deal included free food. But in reality, they worked 10-11 hours a day, with a three-hour break in the afternoon, during which they ate.

The workers, who live in wooden shacks without water, heating or toilets, also confirmed that they hadn't received a cent in pay for six months.

The shooting incident, the workers said, took place on the third day of a protest when they expressed their willingness to go on strike. The foremen, they added, used shotguns to fire directly at them. 


The delegation also met local officials during its four-day visit.

At a meeting with Amaliada public prosecutor, who is directing the case, the delegation learned that the prosecution relates mainly to human trafficking and attempted murder. The delegation noted that the prosecutor only heard testimony from the 35 injured in the shooting attack, although the 92 workers present can all be deemed to have been targets. 

The delegation heard that the charges relating to human trafficking were only added after the intervention of the supreme court prosecutor.

When asked if their was a racial motivation in the incident, the prosecution said that this can only be addressed during the trial.

Human rights groups last week again highlighted a legal deficiency that does not allow police or prosecutors to examine a racial motivation for a crime. This may only be raised during the trial, after the guilt of the defendant has been established.

Police in the nearby town of Varda told the delegation that they carried out 90 inspections in area's strawberry plantations in the last year for violations of working and health regulations, including the illegal employment of undocumented migrants.

"From the facts, it is clear that all [these 92 migrants] live in exploitative conditions and are victims of human trafficking. The fact is that only 35 were hit by bullets is incidental and means the others were simply "lucky" not to have been injured," the Greek Council for Refugees and Doctors of the World said in a statement.

The organisations underlined that they were on hand to offer legal, medical and social support to anyone who required it.


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Medecins du Monde
Greek Council for Refugees
Crime and law